Sometimes when I sit down to write, it just seems impossible to get the pen moving. Thoughts circle in my brain, but never fully form. I glance around the room, look at my phone, even close my eyes for some inspiration that never seems to come.
I put too much pressure on myself as a writer. I always have. It’s the reason I have so many projects started and never finished, the reason I have so many blank journals on my shelves collecting dust. I want the words that that flow and form on the page to be perfect. I don’t want to make mistakes, write something bland and lackluster. I don’t want to spend the time coaxing the words out not the page only to realize that they don’t matter.
That’s a lot of pressure.
That’s a lot of bullshit too.
There’s no such thing as a perfect first draft. Maybe we can come close sometimes, when the right mood hits and the stars align and we have some rare moments of quiet and clarity. But writing–like everything in life–is a process, not perfection. We make do with what we have in the moment. And then we learn and refine and evolve as we go along. And there is immense beauty and growth in that process.
Keep writing. Keep writing.
I return to my mantra whenever I get stuck, forcing myself to keep the pen moving, to push forward until the circling thoughts begin to break apart and reorganize again.
Some days I fill pages with those words, but eventually something comes. Something always comes. Creativity rewards patience and persistence, and I’m often reminded that it can come from anywhere.
One of the little stumbling blocks I set for myself as a writer is the notion that if I can create the perfect writing space, the words will come. Manuscripts will suddenly get finished. Projects I’ve been slogging through for years will suddenly get polished and published. But my truth is–there is no “perfect” place to write. My place is here, wherever that might be in any given moment. The best thing I’ve ever done for myself is to simply make sure I always have a pen and a notebook with me. All the time.
My favorite spot is still Grand Central Station. There is no place that moves quite like it. But I’ve found inspiration in doctors’ waiting rooms, on bus rides, in airport terminals and hotel rooms, in grocery store lines and food courts. I’m even fond of showing up to meetings 10-15 minutes early and jotting down a few broken thoughts or sentences before people begin to arrive and break the silence.
This morning, I climbed out of bed at 5:00 and had an uninterrupted hour to myself, lounging in one of Richie and Diane’s old floral swivel chairs in the den. Electra circled for five or ten minutes licking her bowl clean, taking a lap of the room (her overgrown nails clicking on the hardwoods), licking her bowl again, and then finally retiring back upstairs to the bedroom. A little while later, I heard movement. The shower turned on. Now, Stevie is in the kitchen, banging cupboard doors open and closed as he empties the dishwasher and makes Cadence’s lunch. It’s time to get ready for another day and it feels good to keep writing.